Joining the dots to become a doctor via biomedical science

When Emily Williamson asked herself one of life’s big questions a couple of years ago, the answer shocked her.

The La Trobe University student had endured a run of tough luck and started questioning where her life was headed.

“I really spent a lot of time reassessing everything and thinking, if I could choose what to do, what would that be? And I decided that would probably be a doctor.”

Emily says at first thought, it seemed like the impossible dream.

She’d spent the ten years since VCE working in retail and administration, and after her daughter was born, she ran a small business selling vintage dresses online and at markets.

“I’d always been interested in health,” she says. “My dad’s a chiropractor and I’d spent most of my life wanting to be a chiropractor; I feel like I need to be doing something where I’m helping people.”

At the time La Trobe had just launched its new Bachelor of Biomedical Science degree, which provided a pathway for students to apply to study medicine.

“It seemed achievable, so I decided to give it a go, with very low expectations,” Emily says. “I thought if first year didn’t go well, I’d change my direction. It was reassuring to have the option to transfer into nursing.”

Emily sat a multiple-choice STAT test to successfully gain entry into the course last year.

“I was really terrified,” she says on embarking on her uni journey.

“I found it quite daunting being in class with school leavers. A lot of the classes in first year touched on topics they’d just looked at in school, so they were quick with the answers, whereas I didn’t do VCE science, so it was daunting.

“I just kept persisting, and then we had an assignment on pregnancy tests and I thought, this is something I know about! That was the first time that I thought having a bit more life experience might help me and as time has gone on, I’ve realised that more and more.”

Another positive for Emily was discovering the campus Mature Age Student Club, so much so that this year she became the president.

“I didn’t anticipate how much I would need a uni social support system,” she says. “The club has allowed me to meet people at a similar stage in life. I’ve become good friends with other mature-age students, mainly from nursing and business, who I might not have otherwise met.”

Emily will complete the three-year Biomedical Science degree over four years, then she’ll apply to study medicine at a university which offers that option.

All up, it will take her eight years to become Dr Williamson.

“That seems like a really long time, but time will pass anyway, so you may as well spend it working towards something that you really want to do,” she says.

La Trobe is still accepting direct applications for a range of courses in 2020. What do you really want to do in life? Go to to find your course.

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